Visit Oakhill College any Monday night and you’ll see Ashlie Becker doing the laps – and at speed, too! Or come on Tuesday and you’ll see her jigging and jiving at the dance class.
This enthusiastic athlete, born in 1993, has been with Special Olympics since 2005 and is making a great contribution to the Sydney Hills club.
Ashlie has swum in competition after competition, including the State Games, the Junior Nationals in Tasmania and the 2018 Adelaide Nationals, as well as the regional swimming carnivals organised by Hills SO at Oakhill College. She gained two first places – in the 50m backstroke and the 50m freestyle – in the March 2019 regional carnival.
She enjoys netball and is an ardent follower of the Sydney Swifts.
Ashlie works at Coles in Castle Towers – just the place to buy her favourite food – chips – and the ingredients for the meal she most likes to cook – pasta and meatballs.
In 2018 she went on a holiday to Spain France and Italy, which she loved. Lucky Ashlie!
Well, you can’t say Rebecca Korzeniowski doesn’t have a wide range of interests. The lively 29-year-old enjoys shopping, movies, church, singing, discos, colouring in and – wait for it – having fun.
She’s a Special Olympics swimmer and dancer who has competed at State level in breaststroke – and she also likes football and netball. How’s that for variety?
Rebecca’s favourite meal is a baked dinner and her top-ranking TV show, Dance Mums.
The best holiday she ever had was accompanying her Mum and Dad on a cruise to the Pacific Islands.
Her favourite animals are horses, which are almost never ridden by her No. 1 Superhero – Batman.
When one of your favourite sports outside Special Olympics is horse riding, it’s pretty obvious what your favourite animal is. You’ve guessed it – it’s horses!
And when 30-year-old Daniel Kim isn’t sitting astride the saddle or bushwalking, you might just find him at Oakhill College – swimming.
Yes, Daniel is an outdoorsman who enjoys swimming indoors. And nothing wrong with that either.
His favourite foods are pork ribs and Thai cuisine, which are far from mutually exclusive. The ribs can be consumed while he’s watching that family staple, Better Homes and Gardens, on TV. And perhaps it’s not surprising that one of his favourite hobbies is cooking.
Daniel is well travelled too, having visited both the North Island of New Zealand and Spain – not on the same trip, we hasten to add!
Daniel also loves painting and drawing and watching the Sydney Kings play basketball. Maybe, one day, we’ll be able to persuade him to join our basketball programme!
When you think of Nicholas Zrnic, the expression ‘high flying’ comes to mind. He’s a gymnast par excellence, competing in the Nationals in 2014 and 2018 (where he picked up seven medals) in the Down Syndrome world games in Florence in 2016 (gold in the high bar) and the European championship in 2018.
Gymnastics, however, is not the only sport the talented 26-year-old engages in. You’ll also see him in the pool at Oakhill College and on the basketball court at Castle Hill High, and he’s pretty good at both sports. He also revelled in ice skating when the Norwest Business Park rink was open.
So, what is Nick’s favourite sports team? … the Los Angeles Lakers of course, championship after championship spearheaded by superstars like Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant. No surprise then that his favourite programs on TV are basketball games (plus Xbox).
Nick’s favourite foods are meat and pizza (plenty of protein to build up his muscles) and his Number One Super Hero is the Green Arrow. The best holiday he ever had was visiting his relatives in Croatia.
Off the basketball court he loves nothing better than ten-pin bowling and the movies.
When it comes to holidays, ten-pin bowler Christine Lam knows exactly what her favourite was: a trip to Japan with her mother where she visited a warm sandpit.
That’s probably the other end of the spectrum from a bowling alley, but the 36-year-old loves her bowling too. Not to mention cooking, swimming and the gymnasium. She’s especially fond of dumplings and dogs (the animal, not the edible, kind).
A keen supporter of the Sydney Swans (yes, AFL not ARL!), Christine’s favourite TV show is The Chase Australia and her favourite Super Hero (no surprises here!) is Wonder Woman.
Outside Special Olympics, Christine really enjoys attending peer support groups where she can make even more new friends
Call by the Castle Hill High gymnasium any Wednesday night during term time and chances are you’ll see a blonde lady sitting on the sidelines intently watching the Hills Special Olympics basketball action. And why wouldn’t she? Her son, Steven, is out there, practising bounce passes and pass fakes and layups with the best of ’em.
No benchwarmer, this: Steven is right into the thick of it. Indeed, one of his goals in Special Olympics is to get better at basketball.
Steven swims (breaststroke and backstroke) and dances as well as playing basketball. A veteran of regional carnivals in both swimming and basketball plus a State Basketball Carnival, his enthusiasm is contagious.
Dad Richard, sister Rachelle and brother Matthew are big supporters of Steven’s sporting efforts as well, although we don’t know whether they share his liking for chicken wraps (his favourite food). Mum, Lynda, is the basketball co-ordinator.
When he’s not dribbling the ball or reeling off laps in the Oakhill College pool, Steve enjoys listening to music and watching it on the computer, as well as watching DVDs. His favourite sporting team is the Brisbane Broncos.
We can forgive him these minor lapses. He’s a great competitor and a real asset to Sydney Hills Special Olympics.
Just wondering, though: who does he barrack for in State of Origin?
Melany Newman, joined Hills Special Olympics in 2012. Melany is an enthusiastic dancer who is extremely proud of winning most improved dancer in her group for 2014.
“Special Olympics gives me the opportunity to participate in sports events, meet other athletes and make new friends,” she says.
With the support of her father Geoff, Mother Angela and brothers Stuart and Troy, Melany also enjoys ten-pin bowling and netball during the winter months.
Her favourite sports team? You guessed it – the Australian Womens Netball Team, the Diamonds. So far as she’s concerned, Diamonds really are forever.
The best word to describe Emma Matthews is “all-rounder”. This bubbly young lady is a swimmer, dancer, ten-pin bowler and netballer. And she’s good at them all! Emma represented NSW in the swimming at the Special Olympics Nationals in October 2014 winning silver and bronze, but she’s also a member of the Rockets ten-pin bowling club at Hornsby who compete and travel nationally each year within the disability bowling competitions.
Emma plays netball on Saturday afternoons, works in the hairdressing industry and manages to fit in gym sessions during the week.
Her favourite food – which gives her lots of energy for all the activities she undertakes – is chicken kebab.
Mum Christine and Dad Neil have three other children – Sheree, Ben and Sam. The family is getting bigger all the time, now with five beautiful grandchildren.
Emma’s sport heroes are swimmer Michael Klim and athlete Cathy Freeman.
Truly inspirational, Emma.
See how you can get involved
Special Olympics Sydney Hills welcomes volunteers of all ages to help our athletes reach their potential. Qualified coaches are especially welcome. Simply click the button below and fill in and email the Get in Touch form.
We’ll get right back to you!